Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chekhov and Bullying

Part of the reason for dramatizing the Chekhov story is that we just had a presentation about electronic conduct. One Charles Leitch came and told the assembled student body and staff that we should try not to get pulled in to the negativity so prevalent on the web. It was a fine presentation with lots of shocking factoids and anecdotes.

I didn't know, for instance, that a survey of college admissions officers shows that 80 % of those officers look on social media pages for the applicants, and they report finding about 1/3 to half (depending on which type of 'problem' you're talking about) of their applicants have inappropriate material--drug and alcohol, sex-related, or harshness toward others.

The basic tone of the presentation, though, was 'be careful on the web--you never know who might see what you're doing, or what somebody might do with your material.' He didn't say much like, 'keep suggestive photos of yourself off your site, or say generous and kind things only, because those are the right and good things to do.'

I'm reminded of that cartoon from...well, earlier.

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(I hear back that sometimes the cartoon doesn't load--it's the one of the dog at the computer telling the dog sitting nearby that on the internet nobody knows you're a dog.)

You can say and do what you want since you're anonymous.

So, when dramatizing 'A Slander' we talked about why it seems so much easier to knock other people down than build them up. They seemed to acknowledge that the fastest way to feel good about yourself was to push others lower. You end up higher by comparison.

It's universal. That's why a Russian author's story from more than a hundred years ago seems completely relevant today, in my time and place.

The 8th grade plays were pretty good. They enjoy doing them, by and large. I hope, but again have no way to 'assess,' that this work makes some of the students do more with the reading we've done.

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